As Hyde Park city officials continue discussions on potentially creating a city manager or city administrator type position, Mayor Sharidean Flint said she believes she and the council members are gaining more common ground on the matter.
“I think we all agree that we just need someone to help out,” Flint said.
Because all of the City Council members also work full-time jobs, Flint said it would be nice to have someone who could attend meetings she and other council members couldn’t or to do research as they work through the decision-making process.
Council member Bret Randall said he agrees that the views of the mayor and council on the matter are beginning to align more.
“I know the mayor has been thinking about this hard and long and we both agree that the city has been lacking in some continuity as it relates to the management of the city,” Randall said.
Throughout the discussion of creating a new city position over the past year, Flint has maintained that she does not want to hire a city manager because she believes individuals in that position tend to accumulate power over time.
“I prefer to think of them as an administrative assistant, that they are there to help and do things that the council and the mayor may task them to do, but they are not so much of a decision-making or a supervisory position,” Flint said.
In Flint’s view, the distance between what she and council members want the position to be is shrinking, however, she said there are still some important details she and the council need to work out in regard to the position.
For example, she isn’t sure if council members want the position they create to have supervisory responsibility over other staff members.
She also isn’t sure how much responsibility council members want to assign to the position.
“I would like them to, before they make a decision, check with whichever council member is over that area and confer, rather than just having the power to unilaterally decide things,” Flint said.
Randall said because council members currently do not hold any supervisory power over staff, he doesn’t see how they could advocate for that.
“That would be up to the mayor,” Randall said.
Flint isn’t sure how long it will take for the final decisions on the new position to be made. Right now she is drafting a job description so the council can discuss it at the Sept. 25 meeting.
Depending on how they decide to hire the person and what responsibilities that individual is given, a public hearing may or may not be required. However, Flint said she plans on holding one no matter what.
As to whether or not a final decision on the issue should be made before three new council members join the discussion in January, Flint said she is conflicted.
“I feel it may be appropriate for the new council to weigh in on this,” Flint said, “but I can see the advantage of having the current council also because they have the experience in dealing with the city as it is.”
Randall said he doesn’t have a time frame on when he expects agreements to be reached. It just depends how long it takes for the details to be worked out.
“We have been talking about this for literally almost a year,” Randall said. “If we can come up with a consensus on what that position looks like and some of the responsibilities of that position, then I don’t know why we wouldn’t go forward.”